July 28, 2009 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Could you help me in making my decision to switch to Apple TV

My girlfriend has On Demand. We watch about 2 shows, maybe 3 tops during the year (and that being True Blood, Heroes and The Tudors....we have netflix for movies).

Her kids watch a lot of Nick, Disney and the Cartoon Network.

I've played around with an apple tv, I like it and am already sold on it. I think my girlfriend would be too however she'd like for her kids to be able to watch cartoons when they want. Occasionally, she likes to watch Colbert and the Daily Show however she usually watches them the next day after they have aired.

Is it more economical to stay with onDemand or move over to appleTV? Can you give me reasons pro and con to each? (or is there another alternative...somewhere, there's a roku in this house, but it's buried and hidden at the moment)


ps-we're pretty much integrated to mac as is
posted by Hands of Manos to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have been using Apple TV for about a year exclusively, and since it was new as a supplement.

My experience is mixed.

It seems that with HDMI and a very large iTunes library, the Apple TV gets really slow and reboots quite a bit.

I just got a brand new Apple TV to see if it would help matters.

When it works, it works quite well.

You need to make some careful calculations if you will actually save money, per moth,
when you compare the cost of buying shows on iTunes, so watching them on tv
that you pay for.

I love that there are no commercials, and that I can watch it when I want, and just pay for the shows that I am interested in watching, instead of having to pay for all the content I am not interested in.

So philosophically I like the Apple TV, a lot better than cable,
posted by digividal at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2009

I just made the switch from cable to a Mac Mini. I chose the Mac Mini over the Apple TV for two main reasons. One, the Mini has a DVD drive, which the ATV does not. Two, the Mini hardware supports Netflix streaming, which the ATV does not.

I recommend installing something like Plex or Boxee to conslidate your Hulu/Netflix/hard drive/Comedy Central/etc experience. (I prefer Plex over Boxee.)

For me it was an easy switch -- the only shows I watch live are all on broadcast TV, which I still get. For you to watch True Blood and the Tudors in a semi-realtime environment, you'll have to bit torrent them or something. The kids' shows may show up occasionally on Hulu, but chances are you'll have to find those elsewhere, too. You can get The Daily Show and Colbert the next morning with no problem.

It was totally worth the switch for me -- good luck!
posted by olinerd at 9:23 AM on July 28, 2009

Oh yeah. I guess you can purchase shows legally, can't you? Okay. That, or bit torrent, for some of the shows you mentioned. But there's a ton of content out there for free.
posted by olinerd at 9:24 AM on July 28, 2009

If you bit torrent it, and you are using an unmodified Apple TV, you will have to convert all the content you find, to a format that is suitable for the Apple TV to playback.
You will also have to add it to iTunes.

A PS3 is much more flexible in what formats it will play back, it will also play back straight form a file system, without the step of going through iTunes.

AppleTV works best, when paired with iTunes and shows are bought through iTunes.
posted by digividal at 10:23 AM on July 28, 2009

I put another bet in for Mac Mini. It can do virtually everything an Apple TV can do plus DVDs, more 'net streaming (Hulu, Netflix, etc) bittorrent, etc. It's also a computer, so you can use it as a file server (my other computer backs up my important files to it every night) browse the web from your couch, play games.

A friend of mine sold me his mac mini after he got an Apple TV. After a month he wanted to buy it back. I used that (now 3 year old) mini to replace my expensive, huge media center PC. I like it better.
posted by Ookseer at 11:03 AM on July 28, 2009

I own an Apple TV, but I wouldn't buy one again. It's a limited device, primarily intended by Apple to sell digital content. If I had it to do over, I'd probably spring for the greater flexibility of a Mac Mini. With the Mini, you can watch streaming content from Hulu or Netflix or anywhere else; you can't do that with the Apple TV (at least not without some minor hacks, and not well even then).

Since you already have Netflix, though, you could go for a Roku player. It will be less flexible the Apple TV or Mini, but the device is cheaper and you won't have any monthly recurring costs (besides what you already spend on Netflix).
posted by paulg at 11:32 AM on July 28, 2009

I have an AppleTV. For a while I ran linux and a mythtv client on it, but I was disappointed with the performance, although at one point I did have it running rather well. Under linux it can play 720p without stuttering, but deinterlacing 1080i is a problem. I could not get it to display 1080i in Linux and at the same time get my TV to do the deinterlacing. I got many jaggies, and I eventually gave up on that and reinstalled the AppleTV OS.

Shows are expensive. If you've got cable, you're paying for that content already. I think shows start around $3.99. That can get expensive real fast if the kiddies have access to buying shows. I think you're looking only at most 20 shows for what you'd pay for cable. That's a lot of dough.

Something to remember --

The AppleTV is VERY SPECIFIC with the HD content it will play. It will choke on the h264 720p stuff that you get from torrents. Yes, the AppleTV 'supports' h264, but in actuality, it struggles with true 720p h264 content. You need to crank the resolution down 10%, and change some encoder settings. An easy way to do this is with HandBrake, which is basically point and click simple. But it takes time. Hours, maybe, depending on your computer and the length of the content.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 12:45 PM on July 28, 2009

With the Roku you already own, you can stream Netflix and buy TV shows and movies from Amazon. The only missing pieces would be Hulu and the flexibility to play video acquired via bit torrent. Plus, it's super easy.
posted by mullacc at 12:51 PM on July 28, 2009

Do you want to pay for the kids' cartoons from iTunes? If it's only one or two shows, it won't be too expensive and will let you better limit what they watch.

Do they like shows that are on PBS that you can get with an over-the-air antenna?

Would they be okay with DVDs (or Netflix) instead of watching new stuff from Disney?

I think in general if you only watch a few cable shows you can save money by using the Apple TV combined with an antenna or Netflix. (I do.) If you get your internet from your cable company, you may have to haggle with them to give you internet at the same monthly price when you drop cable.
posted by davextreme at 1:13 PM on July 28, 2009

I bought an Apple TV to watch OTA TV recorded on my Mac via eyeTV (an HDTV receiver in a little USB dongle). I'm not thrilled. The Apple TV runs HOT, all the time. Content sync is slow. The system is klugey. I resist buying content from Apple because it's relatively expensive, compared to Netflix.
If I had to do it over again, I'd get a Mac Mini and eyeTV Hybrid and connect it directly to my television. Hmm.. Want to buy an Apple TV? Half price? ( I kid...)
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 5:34 PM on July 28, 2009

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